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How We Saved our National Mammal (Even...

May 31st, 2016 by Park County Travel Council | Be the first to comment!

So I have spent the past couple of weeks talking about our newly designated national mammal – the bison – and what a big deal it is in these parts. I also offered up some friendly advice to keep you from getting stomped, thrown or otherwise turned into a viral Internet sensation known as “that poor tourist who tried to pet a one-ton wild animal.”

Enjoy viewing and photographing bison from the safety of your vehicle.

Interfering with nature and taking things with bison way too far, however, is not new for us humans. We came close to completely wiping out 30 million bison by killing them for fun (the way many were hunted was certainly not sport) or as a way to control the American Indian population.

In the early 1900s the bison around here numbered approximately two dozen that were in Yellowstone National Park. Realizing that drastic measures needed to be taken, advocates for this species lobbied the United States Congress and received $15,000 to set up ranching operations in the park’s Lamar Valley.

Some 21 bison were bought from private owners and added to the herd, and from 1907 into the 1950s, bison were bred and raised in a protected Read More

Keeping a Safe Distance from Our National...

May 24th, 2016 by Park County Travel Council | Be the first to comment!

Now that the National Bison Legacy Act (NBLA) has designated the bison as our national mammal, we are pretty excited here in Buffalo Bill’s Cody/Yellowstone Country.

Personally, I am wondering what bison/buffalo songs Dan Miller (scientific name – “Hunka Hunka”) will be performing this summer with his Empty Saddles Band.

Unfortunately, interest in this magnificent creature increased recently for the wrong reasons when two tourists in the park (Yellowstone National Park for those who aren’t my neighbors) misguidedly put a bison calf in their vehicle and took it to a ranger station because they thought it was cold. This action resulted in the calf being rejected by the herd which was a death sentence for the animal.

Human contact with bison calves can result in them being rejected by the herd

It is my sincere wish that this event, tragic as it is, will serve to educate people about observing and appreciating wildlife. There have already been too many close calls this season of park visitors approaching – even petting – bison as they gather on the road.

My hope is that nobody is injured or killed because they get too close to the bison while trying to shoot a selfie or because they Read More

Our National Mammal

May 17th, 2016 by Park County Travel Council | Be the first to comment!

When President Obama signed into law the National Bison Legacy Act (NBLA) last week designating a national mammal, it really hit close to home here in Yellowstone Country.

It is practically impossible to spend any time in our region without hearing about the bison, although many people mistakenly call the bison – scientific name bison – a buffalo. Most often it is in reference to Buffalo Bill Cody, our town’s founder. There is the Buffalo Bill Dam, Buffalo Bill Center of the West, Buffalo Bill State Park and more.

The buffalo misnomer occurred as a result of the species bearing a resemblance to a European buffalo – scientific name Bison bonasus. I have also heard people say our bison were mistaken for African or Asian buffalo, but I will go with European since the people who perpetuated this mistake were predominantly from Europe. I would love to hear from someone who could provide a deeper and more definitive argument.

You won’t have any trouble spotting our national mammal in Cody/Yellowstone Country!

The historical significance of this majestic animal in the American West is fascinating. Native Americans relied upon this animal for food, clothing, housing and other uses. Herds were prevalent from western New Read More

Checking Out the Wild Mustangs

May 9th, 2016 by Park County Travel Council | Be the first to comment!

In case you hadn’t heard, next week is our annual Spring into Yellowstone Festival with a great lineup of events taking place May 11 through 15.

Between the activities, field trips and opportunities to meet new people, the week to me is a bit like Christmas, the fourth of July, and a Dan Miller concert all rolled up into one event. I find it hard to sleep some nights just thinking about it.

Join in one of the exciting experiences at the annual Spring Into Yellowstone Festival.

Our little town will be the “hub” for the festival with many of the “spokes” taking participants throughout the region. We will have registration, receptions, accommodations, meals and various social functions close by. I, however, cannot wait to get outside and enjoy activities like an Introduction to Rock Climbing, Wings of the Night bat watching (sorry, no “bat signal” lighting up the clouds for this one) and Wolves of Northwest Wyoming in the park’s Lamar Valley.

Enjoy interpretive hikes, an introduction to rock climbing, photography and more!

An excursion that I definitely want to take this year is the Wild Horses of the McCullough Peaks held each day May 12, 13 and 14.

Some people may not Read More

The “Wild Heart of the Continent” in...

April 29th, 2016 by Park County Travel Council | Be the first to comment!

It’s finally here. The May issue of National Geographic magazine is entirely devoted to Yellowstone National Park, here in Yellowstone Country, and I couldn’t be more excited.

The entire 172-page issue is a celebration of the world’s first national park as well as the centennial of the National Park Service. Some of the country’s truly great writers and photographers spent three full years producing the photography and stories, and the resulting package is a timeless, sensitive, thought-provoking portrayal of “America’s Wild Idea.”

Cody’s East Entrance to Yellowstone – the Wildest Way Into Yellowstone.

I’ve already gotten lost in the stories, as the dog-eared copy on my nightstand attests. “The Paradox of the Park,” explores how man struggles with its co-existence with wilderness, and how that dynamic has changed over the years. From an image from 1972 on page 54 showing tourists surrounding and photographing a bear on its hind legs just a few feet away from them, to a group of teens splashing in the Boiling River near Mammoth Hot Springs, the images are beautiful and disturbing, sometimes at the same time.

There are honest profiles of some of the park’s most ardent supporters, such as Dan Wenk, superintendent of Yellowstone National Park; Read More

Pedal Power in Yellowstone Country

April 21st, 2016 by Park County Travel Council | Be the first to comment!

I think bikes, like cowboy boots, should be chosen carefully and suit your mood. And right now, I’m in the mood for a tough, muddy, day-long bicycling adventure that will shake the cobwebs from my winter-softened muscles and test the limits of my endurance. And since it’s springtime, and its Yellowstone Country, it is likely to be a snowy ride – at least in the high country — in addition to sweaty one. I can’t wait.

Instead of my cute fuchsia cruiser bike with the wire basket and the bell – the bike I save for around-town excursions – I’m getting out my trusty blue ten-speed, checking the air pressure in the tires and oiling the gears in preparation for some spring cycling in Yellowstone National Park.

When cycling in Yellowstone, be sure to check road opening dates.

Cycling in Yellowstone takes some planning. The first thing my friends and I do when we plan a spring cycling outing in the park is check the National Park Service website to find out road opening dates. Typically, the first roads to open are from the West Yellowstone entrance, but driving from Cody to West Yellowstone isn’t practical when most park roads are still Read More

It’s Baby Season in Cody

April 12th, 2016 by Park County Travel Council | Be the first to comment!

Do you know how there’s supposedly a spike in babies born nine months after major blizzards, hurricanes, New Year’s Eve and Dan Miller concerts?

It’s easy to “spot” baby fawns

Well, here in Buffalo Bill’s Cody/Yellowstone Country we see a run on critters every spring, but I am pretty sure it’s just nature’s way of giving animals their best chance of survival by making sure they arrive as the weather is warming up and food sources are most plentiful.

My friends and I love to compare notes on wildlife watching, and we even have a friendly competition to see who spots the first bear after the winter hibernation. I thought I won this year, but my grizzly turned out to be a fishing guide who had not shaved for a few weeks.

Now that we are well into April we can expect to see way more than our fair share of wildlife here in Yellowstone Country.

For example:

Baby black bears are learning to climb

• Grizzly and black bears have emerged from hibernation and many are showing up with babies, often two at a time. Those bears are finding winterkill, wildlife in a weakened state and fish in our rivers and streams.

• Bison calves Read More

Cody’s Big Year

March 22nd, 2016 by Park County Travel Council | Be the first to comment!

This is a big year here in Buffalo Bill’s Cody/Yellowstone Country, and I couldn’t be more excited. My calendar is full of anniversaries, milestones and noteworthy events that will be taking place in Cody and our favorite neighbor, Yellowstone National Park. Here are examples of some of the big birthdays and anniversaries happening this year:

Cody turns 120 this year, and if you ask me, our little town has never looked better. The town was founded by Buffalo Bill Cody in 1896. To truly appreciate our town founder’s progressive vision, take a leisurely stroll down Sheridan Avenue and notice the wide streets, the common-sense layout of the town and the terrific collection of shops, restaurants and comfortable gathering places. His town-planning strategies seem modern and pragmatic, even today.

Cody turns 120 this year!

Buffalo Bill Cody’s 170th birthday was on February 26. Although he died 99 years ago we still celebrate his birthday every year. The Buffalo Bill Birthday Ball is a cowboy-centric party that is always held on the Saturday closest to his birthday. Since Buffalo Bill had the good sense to be born in February, the residents of Cody are happy for a late-winter respite, with music, dancing and eating. Read More

For the Best Yellowstone Vacation, Start...

March 14th, 2016 by Park County Travel Council | Be the first to comment!

As winter gives way to spring, I start to hear from old friends who are thinking about their summer vacations. Invariably, they ask for my counsel on planning a summer vacation to my slice of paradise. Specifically, they usually want my help visiting Yellowstone National Park and our area.

I am always happy to share my knowledge as well as my recommendations about what to do, where to stay and which cowboy musician is telephone number-worthy.

While each vacation will be different, there are several things I always recommend.

First of all, the best way to appreciate a Yellowstone vacation is to start it in Cody, Wyo., the wildest way in to the world’s first national park.

The first stop I recommend is to go to the Buffalo Bill Center of the West and head to the Draper Natural History Museum. At the Draper’s top level, you can look at a floor map of the region that helps you get your bearings and see where Cody, Park County, the park and the whole Yellowstone ecosystem fit together. From that top level are ramps that go down in a counter clockwise pattern with interpretive displays on specific topics such as the area’s wildlife, how forest Read More

Dude, I want to share a secret with you.

March 7th, 2016 by Park County Travel Council | Be the first to comment!

Did you know the term “Dude” actually originated here in Cody, Wyo.? No, it’s not from the surfer beaches of California or a junior high locker room.

Back when the park – we locals refer to Yellowstone as “the park” – was still a baby in the 1870s the people who made a living taking tourists around the thermal features came up with the term to describe any visitor from the East. The term quickly evolved to describe anyone who hired a guide to show them the West and our lifestyle.

Being proud Westerners, ranchers often hosted guests who wanted to stay for a week or two or three and experience the cowboy life. It did not take long, however, before enough people started visiting that it became prohibitively costly for the ranchers to shelter and feed these visitors.

The answer to this dilemma? Ranchers began reluctantly asking their guests to pay a fee to stay and help with chores around the property. The guests were more than happy to pay these fees, and a new segment of the hospitality industry was born.

The first “dude ranch” dates back to the 1880s and was the Custer Trail Ranch in the Dakota Badlands east of Read More